Tuesday, January 9, 2007

The Pamphlet Conspiracy

The article below was in the news last fall, but I wanted to post it here since Dr. Burrows' book sounds very interesting. It seems that some conspiracy theories are real.

Sex, Lies, and the "myth" of Marie-Antoinette
by Nigel Bunyan

For generations of history students Marie Antoinettewas the sexually depraved queen who helped spark theFrench Revolution by joking that her impoverished citizens should "eat cake" during a bread shortage. Documents from the time suggested that prior to her date with a guillotine the Austrian-born queen had a voracious sexual appetite encompassing both men andwomen. Indeed, it is this racy image that will be perpetuated yet again next month when Sofia Coppola's cinematic homage to her, Marie Antoinette, premieres in Britain.

However, a British expert on the French Revolution is claiming that the "evidence" of the queen's reputation for debauchery is a tissue of lies, thought up by London-based criminals intent on blackmailing the French royal family. Printed in a series of ribald pamphlets, it was only read by the Paris mobs after the fall of the Bastillein 1789. Dr Simon Burrows, of Leeds University, argues that instead of distributing the pamphlets, they invited Louis XVI to pay for their destruction. He did so, apparently handsomely, and in return they burned them - except for around 30 copies which were duly seized when the prison was stormed. Dr Burrows agrees with the consensus view that even Marie Antoinette's famous remark, in which she allegedly suggested that starving peasants should eat cake, is a lie. Lies or no lies, the pamphlets did for Marie Antoinette. Share


Anonymous said...

To me, the Coppola film is an extension of pamphlets.

elena maria vidal said...

That is certainly what I thought when I first saw some of the stills.